Ignacio, who originally hails from Mexico City, tells us about his journey from Bikram Yoga student to teacher extraordinaire!
Tell us about your very first Bikram Yoga class: when and where was it, why did you go and what was the experience like?
A friend had been telling me about the many benefits yoga had brought to her brother, and that he just had come back from from a gruelling certification. In July 2009 she convinced me to go and I took my brother along. It certainly helped to have the studio a few steps away from home in Mexico City. I was expecting gurus dressed in white robes and long beards. The room was hot, humid and stinky. I was seriously out of shape and overweight. We didn’t understand what was going on and we just kept staring at each other, completely clueless. It was demanding and challenging. It felt more like 12 hours than 90 minutes, but I survived! I’m still not sure why I went to the second class but, after finishing my first week, I felt the yoga flowing through my veins, saw its many benefits and understood the life-changing potential that it had.
When did you decide you wanted to become a teacher, and why?
I started thinking about it very early. I was exhilarated! I was so grateful about having learned about yoga; I wouldn’t miss a class for the world. I devoured Bikram’s book and went deeper into the philosophy. I wanted everybody to practise this yoga. A few months later a senior teacher, who eventually became my role model and a friend, invited me to train for the first Mexican Yoga Asana competition. I became inspired by the crowd and the senior teachers who were there. As they talked more about yoga it became more clear to me that I aspired to become a teacher to share this with more people.
When did you do Teacher Training, and what was it like?
I went to Teacher Training in Spring 2011 in Los Angeles. There were nine of us from our studio: eight women and me. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I met great friends and spent my days practising yoga; I also learned a lot about myself. I didn’t want to leave!
How often do you practise Bikram Yoga these days?
I’ve been a little off for a while; no judgement. These days I’m aiming to do four to five classes a week.
Would you consider your practice perfect, or are there still some aspects of it you’re working on?
Perfectly imperfect! Boy, was I naïve when I thought I had a perfect practice! This was hard for me to admit because I am a perfectionist; I had to realize that your ability to perform postures is not your practice. I’m still struggling with dozens of details on the physical plane, some of which I knew and some that my fellow teachers at BYV have pointed out to me. I’m also challenged by some of the mental aspects, like concentration. I think everybody’s practice is perfectly imperfect: just as it is, in the present moment. Health, well-being and yoga are a journey, not a destination.
What do you love most about practising Bikram Yoga?
I love challenging myself to go further and learning more and more about the great experiential teachings this practice offers us when we listen. I feel that I have learned and unlearned so much (and yet so little) about myself and the world from a constant practice. I love that it’s a holistic practice that restores and improves health deeply instead of masking the symptoms.
What do you love most about teaching Bikram Yoga?
The feeling of gratitude that comes from sharing. Sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned from great teachers with my students for positive change is an unrivalled privilege.
In terms of your teaching style/philosophy, what’s your main goal when heading up a Bikram Yoga class?
Expansiveness. Mind-body connection. I know through experience that when you align a part of your body, it aligns your mind and, eventually, the world. I love the simplicity of this. My goal is to be clear and engaging, and to inspire students to work and align their bodies, because this will scale up and expand cosmically.
What do you hope students, at all levels, take away from your class?
One “aha” moment when they realize something – about their body, mind, the world or their connection – by deeply experiencing it within themselves.
With some very hot weather upon us, do you have any tips on maintaining one’s practice throughout the summer months?
Eat your water! With so many delicious local green vegetables, fruits and berries available in Vancouver it’s almost sinful not to reward yourself after practice with these foods, which will also give you all kinds of essential vitamins to keep your body balanced and hydrated for the next day in the hot room.